From the Regional Administrator
This last year we faced many challenges and achieved several significant accomplishments in EPA's Pacific Southwest Region. Together with our state, local and tribal government partners, we have been able to better protect our air, water and land. We do it through our daily actions, such as issuing permits and grants; ongoing compliance assistance and strong enforcement; and through our innovative, creative voluntary efforts.
In this report, we are pleased to focus on the results achieved in collaboration with our partners, stakeholders, colleagues, and the public. The challenges we face are daunting. We have the nation's fastest-growing major urban areas - Las Vegas and Phoenix. We have more than 1,300 water bodies impaired by pollution. We have 125 toxic sites on EPA's Superfund National Priorities List. California's heavily populated South Coast and San Joaquin Valley have the nation's worst air quality. Our region has a U.S.-Mexico border area with more than 8 million people, 146 federally recognized tribes, and far-flung territories in the Pacific, where many communities still lack basic safe drinking water and wastewater facilities.
The land and people of our region are diverse, and it is that diversity that gives us our strength. We are fortunate to have a workforce that reflects the diversity of our region and community partners that are fully committed to protecting public health and the environment.
Air quality has always been one of our highest priorities. Last year, the San Joaquin Valley finally met the health standard for coarse particulate pollution - an agent of asthma and respiratory disease - after exceeding it for more than 15 years. Through the West Coast Collaborative, we made great strides reducing diesel emissions, especially in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. We concluded legal cases against four major oil companies, requiring them to reduce emissions from seven California refineries.
Two of our foremost goals for clean water are to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water and to restore impaired waters. We have worked to meet water and wastewater infrastructure needs on tribal lands and in Mexican border and Pacific island communities. We have reached agreements through our enforcement actions with urban areas to make major improvements to prevent sewage spills. EPA grants are supporting work by state and tribal governments on permits, pollutant limits, inspections, enforcement and preventing polluted runoff.
Our work to restore land involves many tools. In 2006 we started the Route 66 Partnership, to help small communities in northern Arizona clean up abandoned fuel tanks and gas stations. Our Superfund program cleans up the most difficult toxic sites, such as Arizona's Indian Bend Wash, where we completed construction of groundwater cleanup facilities. We launched EPEAT, to prevent e-waste and save energy by making it easy for purchasers to buy greener computers. We are leading the nation in cleaning up underground tanks and illegal dumps on tribal lands. We collaborated with Mexico to collect 36 tons of waste pesticides along the border. Emergency Response is also a priority, with homeland security threats now included in EPA's disaster preparedness work.
By leveraging a diverse array of resources, actively engaging in innovative partnerships, and utilizing the full breadth of our capabilities, we have accomplished far more than would otherwise be possible.
I invite you to keep working with us to conserve, protect and restore the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the unique urban and natural environments of our vast Pacific Southwest Region. There's a lot more that we can - and must - accomplish in the coming years.
EPA Pacific Southwest Region 9